Intellectual Disabilities

Nurfland is a new game offered for free by Project Austismus on both the iPad and Android. The game is the first in a series that teaches children 4-8 how to distinguish between various human emotions. As autistic children have played, data has been collected that, along with feedback from parents and teachers, has delivered new insights into their condition. Read more about how Nurfland helps students with autism.

As someone who uses Assistive Technology (AT) to make it through her day, I’m telling you, you non-AT users can get pretty… weird. Something about interacting with an assistive technology (AT) user like me causes some normally very composed and astute people to lose a bit of their cool. I get it. I’m sure when I roll up in my wheelchair not in full control of my own body and chatting with my mom using my word board, I can catch the average bear off guard.

Professor Rhonda McEwen of the Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga has found that mobile touch technology has the potential to considerably enhance how students with autism learn, communicate, engage with others and succeed at school. After studying thirty-six children with autism at a Toronto public school, Professor McEwen found that the use of off-the-shelf hand-held touch devices for learning led to statistically significant improvements in children’s communication skill, social skill, attention span and motivation. Read more about how mobile tech may enhance how students with autism learn.

Texthelp Inc., an award-winning literacy software solutions provider, has released Read&Write for Google. Read&Write for Google, which works within Google Drive in Chrome on PCs, Macs and Chromebooks, allows students with learning disabilities to access and interact with the same documents as their peers and teachers. To accomplish this, the software offers support tools for Google document, PDFs and ePubs which include:

  • Read aloud with dual color highlighting
  • Talking Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Translator, and Fact Finder
  • Study Skills Highlighters and Collect Highlights
  • Vocabulary List Builder
  • Annotations (PDFs and ePubs)
  • Navigational tools (ePubs)

Read more about Read&Write for Google here or visit the Texthelp Inc website

Ghotit’s advance spelling and grammar checker and their intelligent word prediction, has been optimized for people with dyslexia and dysgraphia. For the past six years, Ghotit has been developing assistive technologies for writing and reading. They have listened to the input from their dyslexic user base and the professional community and added new advanced features for people with dyslexia in their latest release.

The features include:

  • Intelligent phonetic and context-sensitive spell checker.
  • Advanced grammar checker.
  • A powerful word prediction which is grammar and phonetic sensitive.
  • A built-in proofreader.
  • A reader that can read out any document or web page.
  • Integrated dictionary

For more information visit the Ghotit website

In research conducted by the University of Kansas, preschoolers with autism will use an iPad voice output app with their classmates. This will help determine whether the technology can improve deficits in communication, social reciprocity and play skills typical for children on the autism spectrum. Read more about the app for autism.

In an effort to commit to persons with disabilities and ensure that they are treated equally with dignity and respect, Singapore has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD). On August 18, 2013 the Convention will come into effect for Singapore marking a significant milestone. Singapore’s Masterplan, which gives Singapore a roadmap for an inclusive society where persons with disabilities are empowered to contribute to society, is credited for making it possible through the 3P (People, Public, Private) collaboration. Read more about Singapore committing to persons with disabilities.

Micah Lahren of Technibble.com discusses assistive technology (AT) for business clients who have disabilities. Some of the AT he mentions includes:

  • Espeak – the default text-to-speech synthesizer for Ubuntu
  • Assistive Mouse Adapter  - a device that filters out unwanted movements, such as tremors, when using a mouse
  • Trackball – a device that offers a better grip for persons with dexterity impairments

To read more about AT that helps clients with various types of disabilities, read Assistive Technology Solutions for Your Clients.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Developmental disabilities include cerebral palsy, down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, and autism. Established by President Reagan in 1987, the commemoration depicts the achievements that persons with developmental disabilities have made and challenges that that they still face.

The following articles discuss Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in depth:

According to Cornell University, in 2011 there was an estimated 14,144,300 (4.9%) people in the United States with a cognitive disability.  Broadly speaking, intellectual disabilities pertain to difficulties with memory; problem-solving:  attention, reading, linguistic, and verbal comprehension; math comprehension; and visual comprehension. Intellectual disabilities range from mild, moderate or severe and many people have one or more intellectual disability.

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